The upland horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hillorum), like all members of its family, is named for its distinctive horseshoe-shaped noseleaf (2). Very little information is available specifically on the upland horseshoe bat, but all horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus species) have broad wings with round tips and, unlike most bats, are able to land and take off from the ground (2) (3).
Horseshoe bats have very small eyes which are obstructed by the noseleaf, and large ears which are used in echolocation (3). Unlike many bats, horseshoe bats echolocate by emitting ultrasound through the nostrils rather than from the mouth and it is suspected that the distinctive nose structure is used to direct the ultrasound (2) (3).
Female upland horseshoe bats have two functioning teats as well as two ‘false’ nipples which do not provide milk. Young horseshoe bats hang onto their mother’s false nipples when she is in flight (2).
- Also known as
- Hill's horseshoe bat.
Upland horseshoe bat biology
Little is known about the biology of the elusive upland horseshoe bat, although many aspects of its life history are likely to be similar to other horseshoe bats. Horseshoe bats generally emerge from their roost when it is dark. They hunt insects by flying close to the ground and pouncing on prey once it has been detected (2). If a large insect is caught in flight, the horseshoe bat may tuck the insect into its wings while it feeds on it (3), or may carry it back to its roosting site to eat (2). When roosting, horseshoe bats wrap their wings around their entire body, giving the appearance of a large cocooned insect (3).
Horseshoe bats typically give birth to a single young after a gestation period of seven weeks (3). The young reaches sexual maturity around two years of age, and horseshoe bats generally live for six to seven years (3).
Upland horseshoe bat range
The upland horseshoe bat has been recorded in West and Central Africa, in Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria and Cameroon. It may also occur in northern Uganda (1).
Upland horseshoe bat habitat
The upland horseshoe bat roosts in caves situated in moist, lowland tropical forest and in montane forest. It hunts in the surrounding forest (1).
Upland horseshoe bat status
The upland horseshoe bat is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).
Upland horseshoe bat threats
The main threat to the upland horseshoe bat is the loss of its forest habitat to logging and mining operations (1). In 2003 only 14.4 percent of the original forest in West Africa remained, and forest cover has continued to decline ever since (4).
A further threat to the upland horseshoe bat is hunting by humans for the bushmeat trade (1).
Upland horseshoe bat conservation
There are no direct conservation measures to protect the upland horseshoe bat. Although some areas of its habitat are protected, it is unknown whether there are any colonies within these protected areas (1).
The forests of Upper Guinea were ranked as a biodiversity hotspot of continental and global importance in 2000 and have since formed one of the world’s priority conservation areas (4) ( 5). Any conservation action that takes place here will also benefit the upland horseshoe bat.
Further research into this little-known species is clearly required, so that important areas for the upland horseshoe bat can be identified and protected (1) (4).
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- Detecting objects by reflected sound. Used by bats and odontocete cetaceans (toothed whales, dolphins and porpoises) for orientation and to detect and locate prey.
- The state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth.
- Montane forest
- Forest occurring in the montane zone, a zone of cool upland slopes below the tree line dominated by large evergreen trees.
- A fleshy structure that surrounds the nose, common to many bats.
- Sounds that are above the range of human hearing.
IUCN Red List (November, 2010)
Richardson, P. (2002) Bats. The Natural History Museum, London.
Nowak, R.M. (1994) Walker’s Bats of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
Fahr, J. and Ebigbo, N.M. (2003) A conservation assessment of the bats of the Simandou Range, Guinea. Acta Chiropterologica, 5(1): 125-141.
United Nations Development Programme (November, 2010)